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Solar heater, spring water among northwestern B.C. innovations

Prize winner Brandon Greenwall from Hazelton with a solar heater made with pop cans and other upcycled items. - CONTRIBUTED
Prize winner Brandon Greenwall from Hazelton with a solar heater made with pop cans and other upcycled items.
— image credit: CONTRIBUTED

Rick Brouwer is more convinced than ever the region could use a place to nurture regional creativity in the hope that what evolves could turn into a business.

The executive director of the Skeena-Nass Centre for Innovation in Resource Economics (SNCIRE) made the comment following its hosting May 9 of a competition challenging area residents to come up products or creative ideas.

“What we saw were some very good ideas and innovation. You just get the feeling more could be accomplished if we had some way, an incubator, to take these forward,” he said of 12 entries from around the region.

The top placing entry, from Giulianna Hauknes of Prince Rupert and Christine Moody of Skidegate, won the $2,500 Terrace Community Forest Prize for Project Hlaana, natural spring water infused with traditional herbs, medicines and berries – all found on Haida Gwaii.

The prize was based on most innovative use of a bioproduct.

There were six prizes awarded in all.

Brouwer said he was also impressed with teen Brandon Greenwall from Hazelton who won the Mountain Prize worth $1,750 for a solar heater made out of pop cans and other upcycled items.

“He was really into it,” said Brouwer. “He was having a great time explaining it to everybody.”

“What we saw was everything we had been talking about – that if you can plant a seed, it can grow.”

Mike Sorochan from Terrace won two prizes worth $1,000 each – one from UNBC and the other a people's choice voted at the event – for his creation of a lightweight collapsible backcountry ski.

The Northwest Innovation Challenge, put on by SNCIRE through the sponsorship of various contributors, could be the last official act of the centre which is closing after failing to secure long term financial backing.

“When you hear about these large LNG projects and you think of their legacy, what better legacy could there be than a place for innovation, a place where you could take ideas and build them out,” said Brouwer.

Nearly 100 people attended the May 9 event.

There were 12 finalists from around the region and $8,500 provided in prize money. Here is a complete list of the prize winners:

Terrace Community Forest Prize $2,500

Awarded for the most innovative use of a bioproduct (ie., timber, botanicals, woody waste).

Winner - Giuliana Hauknes of Prince Rupert & Christine Moody of Skidegate for ‘Project Hlaana’, natural spring water that has been infused with traditional herbs, medicines, and berries, all found on Haida Gwaii.

Mountain Prize (First Place) $1,750

Awarded based on the criteria: strength of innovation, regional relevancy, impact, appeal of proposed display and enthusiasm.

Winner – Brandon Greenall from Hazelton for ‘Pop Can Solar Heater’ made from mainly upcycled materials

Tree prize (Second Place) $1,250

Awarded based on the criteria: strength of innovation, regional relevancy, impact, appeal of proposed display and enthusiasm.

Winner – Naomi Gourlay and Carmen Nyuli for ‘Ms.Fitz Saddle.Bagz’, removable saddlebags that can also be used as fashionable hand and shoulder bags for women

Rock Prize (Third Place) $1,000

Awarded based on the criteria: strength of innovation, regional relevancy, impact, appeal of proposed display and enthusiasm.

Winner – Claire Lesawich from Smithers for ‘Wood Ash replaces Road Salt’, a research project that shows the advantages of using wood ash on roads for traction, instead of other materials such as commonly used road salt

UNBC Northwest Prize $1,000

Awarded for most innovative entry that addresses the needs and opportunities of Northern B.C., the innovation that is most clearly "of the North, for the North”.

Preference will be given to students.

Winner – Mike Sorochan from Terrace for ‘Lightweight Collapsible Backcountry Ski’

People’s Choice Award $1,000

Voted on and chosen by anonymous public ballot.

Winner – Mike Sorochan from Terrace for ‘Lightweight Collapsible Backcountry Ski’.

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